Spicy Korean-Style Gochujang Meatballs

By • April 2, 2013 • 91 Comments

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Author Notes: For the Super Bowl this year, my husband wanted to make some Korean chicken wings he had seen in a magazine. When I saw the recipe, I wasn't expecting gochujang (Korean chili paste) to be an easy ingredient to find (or pronounce), but it turned out it was incredibly painless to locate at my local big-box store. The wings turned out great, but I now have a pretty sizable tub of gochujang sitting in my fridge.

Not one to let food go to waste, I've made it my mission to use that stuff up. It's actually pretty versatile, and has a nice spicy and smoky flavor. A little bit goes a long way toward giving an otherwise boring dish a little Korean flair. Along the lines of "party food" like chicken wings, I thought this stuff would work in meatballs, too (my recipe is adapted from a recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon). These meatballs are spicy and smoky and delicious.
foxeslovelemons

Food52 Review: WHO: Foxeslovelemons is a food writer from Detroit.
WHAT: Our new favorite cocktail party appetizer, with a kick of spice to keep things interesting.
HOW: Just mix, fry, bake, and brush on a sweet-spicy glaze.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We know they're a classic, but let's face it: your meatballs are probably stuck in a white-bread rut. This is how you break them out of it.
A&M

Makes 20 meatballs

Meatballs

  • 3 green onions, very thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, for pan-frying

Glaze

  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Garnishes: sliced green onion and toasted sesame seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. In large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients except oil. The key to good meatballs is not to over mix them. Just gently combine the ingredients until everything is evenly distributed. Form the mixture into golf-ball sized meatballs.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. In batches (don't crowd the pan!), brown the meatballs on all sides. Transfer meatballs to rimmed baking pan and transfer to oven. Bake 10 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160° F.
  3. Meanwhile, in small saucepot, combine all glaze ingredients. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened.
  4. To serve, brush meatballs with glaze and sprinkle with green onion and sesame seeds.
Jump to Comments (91)

Comments (91) Questions (0)

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4 days ago Cooknotchef

Fyi gluten free gal- not exactly sure what sirachi is, but I'm guessing you mean sriracha. In that case, you made 'Spicy sriracha turkey poultry-balls' for your guests. Happy to hear they enjoyed them. But dont think for a minute they resembled the result of what you get when following the above recipe. Sriracha and gochujang are nothing alike, and when one is substituted for the other, the result will not be nearly the same. Hence, the issues you had getting the glaze to coat the meatballs.
Please spend the time gathering the true ingredients- well worth the effort!

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4 days ago GlutenFreeGal

This is a true WINNER!! Made this for a large gathering and they disappeared before anything else. As my diners were of a range of age groups and palettes, I halved the amount of chili paste/Sirachi (1 Tbsp to 1 lb of ground turkey meat), and did not add any chili paste/Sirachi to the glaze. MY difficulty was getting the glaze to stick to the cooked turkey meatball even after cooking the glaze for a full 5 minutes without any chili paste/see again for Thanksgiving.

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26 days ago tak fuji

OKay- look- I like spicy stuff, and maybe I'm a wussy american but HOLY BEJUSES was this hot as HAAYELLL!! Being an anal completeist I followed the recipe exactly. Including buying Gochujang paste off of the intraweb... It was crazy spicy- like when you go to the Thai place and they have four hotness levels and you pick the (3) -very hot level- and it is a punishment to your senses. For regular people, as opposed to SATANISTS, this is right at the "TOO dang HOT" level. I loved the meatballs and glaze, but I would cut the gochujang paste in half AT LEAST to make it more palatable for your average American couch surfer. The glaze could go without the chili paste altogether (just creep a little more soy and vinegar into the mix) and still be awesome, and the meatball mix smelled AMAZING before cooking, but it was just a level too spicy. I think one tbls of gochujang in the meat mix and none in the glaze would make this more realistic, spice-wise, for your average joe. Don't f**k with the rest of the recipe though, the ginger and garlic and green onion mix was awesome beyond belief. So bright and tasty and fantastic.

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about 1 month ago Samantha

These are fantastic! I used fig preserves and they were amazing. Thank you!

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2 months ago Megha

Hi There-- looking forward to trying out this delicious looking recipe this weekend. Do you think the recipe will still taste okay if I sub fig preserves for the apricot?

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2 months ago foxeslovelemons

Oh, definitely Megha! I think it'll be great. I haven't tried fig in this recipe yet, but I've made it with all kinds of other preserves, and they all seem to work :)

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2 months ago jjohio

Holy gochujang batman! One - I love gochujang and have been known to overuse it in marinades and as a garnish (the more the better) plus I'm a hot spicy food fanatic. I followed this recipe exactly - not sure if I had flaming hot gochujang or what but it was burning hot! My husband thought they were delicious (I agree!) but accused me of trying to kill him ;P Either way though - great recipe that I'll repeat again but if I use that same gochujang I'll cut the amount down in the meatball to 1 Tbsp.

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2 months ago foxeslovelemons

Oh no, jjohio! I think different brands of gochujang vary in heat, for sure. I used a very "Americanized" brand of gochujang, because that's all that I was able to find. I'm sure it was very mild compared to yours. I'm glad your husband still thought they were delicious, and hope they turn out even better next time :)

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3 months ago Liz Gorr

Has anyone tried this recipe with turkey? would I have to make any changes since there is so little fat in turkey?

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4 months ago Cathy Stussi

These aare some of the best meatballs. Brought them to a party and won best appetizer! Has just enough bite. Everyone love them. I tripled the receipe and brought home no leftovers...boo hoo!

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4 months ago foxeslovelemons

So glad to hear they were a hit, Cathy! What kind of wine did you end up serving with them? (Sorry, missed your previous comment/question).

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4 months ago Cathy Stussi

I'm bringing these to a Appetizer/wine Party. What kind of wine do you think would go with this?

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5 months ago za'atar

Delicious! I subbed marmalade for the apricot jam because that's what I had, but other than that I followed the recipe exactly and they turned out wonderfully! I love how the heat from the gochujang is flavorful rather than taste bud singeing.

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5 months ago foxeslovelemons

Thanks so much, za'atar. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. That's the same reason I like gochujang, too. A little bit of heat, but not tongue burning spice!

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5 months ago Burnt Offerings

Made these once again for a neighborhood party, and was inundated for the recipe the day afterwards. Gone in 60 minutes. Double batch. I take them in a crock pot as a warmer when I bring them to parties.

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5 months ago foxeslovelemons

I'm so glad they've been such a big hit for you, Burnt Offerings! Don't you just love crockpots for keeping meatballs warm? I would say half the time I use my crockpot, it's for that purpose ;)

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6 months ago Gotthescoop

I followed your recipe exactly and were loved by all. These little morsels of goodness I gave a D. For DELICIOUS!!! Thanks so much. On the top of my list for all our party's.

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5 months ago foxeslovelemons

So glad they were loved, Gotthescoop!

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6 months ago walkie74

Hmm... instead of apricot preserves, how do you think these would go with orange marmalade? Or even blackberry?

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6 months ago foxeslovelemons

Hi walkie74! I think orange marmalade would definitely work well here. Not sure about blackberry, but why not give it a try? :)

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7 months ago Swiss Meringue

I like spicy food, but my gochujang is very authentic and really spicy (no English on the label) so I halved the amount in the meatballs and the sauce and that was perfect and rather spicy, but not too much so. Delicious recipe - would make again!

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7 months ago Mulzee

These were great! I only ended up using about half the glaze but everything was delicious and the flavours blended well together. A great way to use leftover gochujang!

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7 months ago omegatop

I found the meatballs lacking in cohesion. Will add an extra egg for binding purposes, next time.

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7 months ago Amy

I think I got a little heavy handed with the gochujang because these were so spicy they were inedible. I will try again because of the reviews but will start with less gochujang and amp up as needed.

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7 months ago foxeslovelemons

Oh no, Amy! Sounds like your gochujang might have been extra spicy :( So sorry, but hope it's better if you try again!

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7 months ago Bryan

I couldn't believe how easy this was to make! It was fantastic for a quick dinner, I brushed the meatballs with the glaze and put them back in the oven for a few minutes they turned out great. Thanks for sharing.

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7 months ago foxeslovelemons

So glad to hear you liked them, Bryan!

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8 months ago Cooknotchef

Geez Keith, i a) cant imagine an Asian grocery store didnt have this, and b) am pretty glad i dont live where you do if that is true. Harissa is not going to be remotely close, but on the other hand, may end up with an interesting result. But one that is nothing like this recipe.... So- go ahead, give it a whirl. Then, order some gochujang online, and try them again and compare. Good luck!

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8 months ago Annie

I'm with Cooknotchef on this one. Keith check it out again and be sure to go to the Korean section of the Asian market. Gochujang is a Korean staple (I am Korean) and it is always in an Asian grocery if there's a Korean section. Hope you find it soon!!! It is a delicious game changer!!!

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8 months ago Keith

Checked three grocery stores, including one upper-scale market and an Asian market, and none of them had gochujang. Obviously disappointing, and I have no idea what they're supposed to taste like, but I am going to try using Harissa as a substitute, since that's what I have on hand.

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8 months ago foxeslovelemons

Chiming in to echo what others have said. Harissa won't be similar to gochujang, but I'm sure it'll still be tasty :)